Sanctuary Cities Might Be Sticking Point In Shutdown Battle

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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A battle over federal funding for sanctuary cities could lead to a government shutdown when Congress moves to pass a spending bill before funding expires at the end of the month.

New pressure from the Trump administration calling for a rider to roll back federal funding for sanctuary cities could prove to be problematic in terms of garnering support for the spending bill from Democrats. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is reportedly calling on members of the House Freedom Caucus to push for its inclusion, arguing the president needs to have a way to fund its top priorities. The call for the inclusion of the language follows the administration advocating for funding to build the border wall in the must-pass spending bill.

While GOP lawmakers have been vocal about their support of working to put a stop to sanctuary cities —  where law enforcement authorities refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials — some staffers fear it could derail their efforts to strike a bipartisan deal on the spending legislation.

“It would blow up any chance of a bipartisan deal. Getting wall money is hard enough, and you get a guy pushing new riders out of nowhere,” a Republican congressional aide told Politico. “I don’t see how catering to the Freedom Caucus votes help on [the] spending bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have been largely supportive of sanctuary cities, arguing abolishing them makes the country less safe, because illegal immigrants could potentially be less likely to turn in violent criminals in fear of deportation. Republican proponents of abolishing the policy have cited numerous examples of individuals across the country who have been subject to violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

The divide on the issue is teeing up to be a major sticking point in striking an agreement on a spending measure that can pass both chambers.

Mulvaney told John Harwood in a CNBC interview Wednesday, a shutdown isn’t optimal, but noted 83 percent of the government would remain open in the case they don’t come to an agreement.

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